Campus pastor Brian Martin Burkholder leads a prayer of blessing and sending during Spring 2011 convocation
Campus pastor Brian Martin Burkholder leads a prayer of blessing and sending on the student groups who will spend the spring semester on cross-cultural seminars in India and Mexico/Guatemala.

President’s Convocation Message Calls Students to Serve and Lead

What does it mean to serve and lead in a global context?

Loren Swartzendruber, president of EMU, addressed this question in a convocation address Wednesday morning, Jan. 12, in Lehman Auditorium at the start of second semester.

“Every single one of us, no matter our roles in life, will only be sustained and energized if we know we are engaged in meaningful work to which we have been called. For those of faith, it is a vocation,” Dr. Swartzendruber told the assembly.

Three points to consider in life

The president expanded the vocational theme by offering counsel to the student body:

“One, don’t assume that your life will stretch 70-80 more years. While most of you will live long and productive lives, don’t take anything for granted.

“Two, do all you can to prepare yourself for a variety of careers -and EMU is exactly the right place to be for that purpose.

“Thirdly, whatever career you enter, remember that you are more than your career. Every ‘job’ can be fulfilling if you are meaningfully engaged as a person, if your talents and gifts are being fully utilized and if you are more than the role you fill.”

Music Ensemble Performs During Spring 2011 Convocation
A string ensemble - Meg Smeltzer, first violin; Heather Tieszen, second violin; Briana Eshleman, viola; and Ellie Cook, cello, offers a prelude at the opening convocation of EMU's second (spring) semester.

Swartzendruber shared comments he has received from persons that applaud qualities of EMU’s alumni that run deeper than impressive resumes.

“A school administrator told me that EMU graduates are almost always stronger teachers than they appear to be from initial interviews,” Swartzendruber said.

“Our graduates tend to present themselves with some humility. It’s quite common for many to begin their first employment, intending to simply do their jobs well, and quickly find themselves in leadership roles, even when they didn’t necessarily aspire to be.

“I was told of a grad hired by a large law firm in Portland, Ore,” he continued. “While there were several candidates for the partner-track position, the EMU graduate was selected largely because the partners interviewing him were intrigued that he had taken a cross-cultural semester.

“An effective college education includes experiences that challenge unexamined assumptions, sustain more complex understandings of oneself and others and enable students to form commitments in a relativistic world – which fits well with EMU’s mission of preparing servant leaders,” the president said.

Cross-cultural blessing

The convocation ended with a commissioning for student groups who will spend the spring semester on university-sponsored cross-cultural seminars.


Twenty-four students and faculty leaders Dr. Kim G. Brenneman, professor of psychology, and her father, Kermit Brenneman were in India. The India group will travel and study the history, culture and many religions of the country, study psychology in a multi-cultural setting, learn fundamentals of the Hindi language, and work at Mother Teresa’s organization in Calcutta.

U.S./Mexico Border and Guatemala

Twenty students led by Deanna F. Durham, associate professor of applied sciences, and her spouse, Byron J. Peachey, associate campus pastor, will spend the semester in a study-travel seminar to the U.S./Mexico Border and Guatemala. They will deal firsthand with immigration issues across national borders, spend significant time with CASAS, a Spanish and cross-cultural study program in Guatemala, live with host families while studying Spanish and do service-learning assignments.

Syria and Israel/Palestine

Another 17 students who will spend the semester studying and traveling in Syria and Israel/Palestine will be commissioned at the close of university chapel Friday, Jan. 14. The group, led by Dr. Linford L. Stutzman, associate professor of culture and mission, and his wife Janet M. Stutzman, will explore Arab, Palestinian and Jewish history and cultures, do intensive Arabic language study, attend seminars and take field trips and trace the Christian movement in the Mediterranean region from the time of Jesus forward.

EMU’s second semester runs through Apr. 29.